Monday, October 8, 2012

What to Buy

"Money for Nothin', Get Your Chicks for Free" 
- Dire Straits, Money for Nothing

With the announcement of D&D Next, many players have been complaining that there is no new material to purchase for Dungeons and Dragons.  I heartily disagree.  There's already a lot of solid 4th Edition books to pick up that will transfer well for a new edition, as well as countless other tools and accessories.  So, if you're sitting on tons of cash and want to know what D&D stuff to pick up, let me offer a few suggestions.
  • Poster maps
  • Miniatures
  • Various roleplaying books
  • Dungeon Tiles
Poster maps are some of the most cost effective ways of being able to throw down an encounter location time and time again.  Mike Shea (of swears by these things, and has written a couple articles about their effectiveness (as well as hosted a nice gallery of all the maps and where to find them).  In my foray to 4E, I managed to snag quite a few, and they are stored nicely in my Dragon Collector Set box.

An easy way to get six poster maps is to simply buy the map packs produced by WotC.  We have Haunted Temples and Vaults of the Underdark currently, with Shattered Keeps due out December 18, 2012.  Both of these are good value, and I'm sure the next one will be as well.

In 3.5E, there's another set of posters maps that came out with mini adventures for miniatures.  These packs, called Fantastic Locations, offer two double-sided poster maps, giving a grand total of 4.  The maps are really nice, and you can pick up the packs on  Fane of the Drow is about $6 right now (combined with shipping should be under $10).  If you watch the listings, you may be able to get a deal on one being offered even cheaper.  I managed to snag The Frostfell Rift last week for under $10, simply because somebody was selling it cheap.

Miniatures are another great investment, if your group plays with them.  A lot of people have complained that WotC isn't putting any new ones out, but I have to disagree.  The Dungeon Command game offers 12 miniatures (and tiles and cards) for about $40.  The miniatures are excellent (I review them here:, and the game is a blast to play.  Get one faction (or two) will give you a solid start to whatever you're looking to play.  I'm especially excited for the fourth set, Curse of Undeath ( to be released next month.  WotC released a preview today of the Larva Mage, a totally brand new sculpt.

I consider there to be a solid amount of 4E books and useful material no matter what edition of Dungeons and Dragons you're playing.  The Neverwinter book is one of my favorites, simply because it gives DM's an understanding of how to put an entire campaign world together.  My Vellyn campaign introduction was created based off how the Neverwinter book was put together.  In short, the book helped my world building skills.

The Monster Vault (both 1 and 2) are great resources.  Even if you don't plan on playing 4E, the book provides lots of adventure hooks with the monsters, and the tokens are a great resource if you don't have a lot of miniatures.  They both even come with poster maps!

After that, I think that depending on what kind of campaign information you want, you should buy books and products based on that.  If you're into the Feywild, look for Fey books and adventures.  If your FLGS has older material, grab that and flip through it.  I've got some good AD&D modules from mine for about $10, just because they were lying around.  The adventures are pretty cool too, and give a lot of inspiration/feel.

Some people are against Dungeon Tiles, but I really like the creativity they bring.  It might take more time to build maps, but I'm all for not laying out the entire map and simply covering things up.  When I first used Dungeon Tiles, they allowed me to keep my players guessing with no idea of what was around the corner.  I still enjoy using them for that reason.  The 3-D ones are my favorites, so I would suggesting getting a set or two of Harrowing Halls, and, if you want more, Deserts of Athas.

Is there anything else that players should be looking at?  If so, be sure to let me know in the comments, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

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